My teacher suggested a field trip for my last day of Spanish classes. I invited friends and their teachers to taste wine and chocolate in San Juan del Obispo, just outside Antigua, Guatemala. We took group photos, over-indulged and arrived back in town before noon for my Guatemala to El Salvador trip.
Later that day, I had arranged a shuttle van ride to Guatemala City to catch my bus to San Salvador, El Salvador. My pack was ready to go. I put my bag with wine and chocolate purchases in my “carry on.” Before putting on my pack, I took off my cardie as I was sweating from the slight jog to get back in time. I made it to the corner pick up a few minutes early.
As the driver pulled up and said my name, I realized I was no longer wearing my money belt with my passport. A chill flew up my spine as I remembered that I removed my cardie while wearing the money belt. I promised the driver I’d be quick. He had others to pick up. I couldn’t run with the pack up the hill and four flights of stairs so I left it. My pacsafe backpack protector comforted me…as long as he didn’t drive off with the whole thing.
I ran into my bedroom, twirled around and didn’t see the money belt. A member of my host family walked in and pointed to the money belt, tucked under a sheet. Gracias a dios. I said goodbye, went flying down the stairs and street and hopped in the shuttle bus.
We picked up the other travelers and headed to Guatemala City. I arrived at the hotel from where my bus to San Salvador, El Salvador was leaving and had time to grab some food. When I got back to the hotel, I sat down to pull out said cardie when I realized there was liquid in the bottom of the bag. The wine bottle had shattered. I had 10 minutes to rinse, ring and attempt to dry the contents of my carry on bag.
Fortunately, I had taken out my day bag, which had my travel documents, phone and ipad. All the gifts I was carrying for my friends in El Salvador and Nicaragua, my small jewelry bag, cardie, jacket, scarf and journal were soaked through. The journal hit the trash, clasps on two bracelets broke off later but in spite of being a fruit wine, it was a clear wine so nothing was stained.
I set up a market stall on the first class bus, draping clothes, a Guatemalan textile and chocolate in wet paper wrappers over three seats next to me to dry. The area surrounding my seat smelled of wine and chocolate. I sunk into the seat, enjoyed the aroma and reminisced about a wonderful morning with new friends letting go of all the travel mishaps.